Higher up into the Hills of Basilicata


After leaving Apollosa, we decided to take a rest day in Benevento. From that quiet if interesting town,  we have followed the Via Appia Antica as it climbed into the limestone highlands and volcanic uplands of the southern Apennines.  Geographically, the Way leaves the province of Campania into Basilicata,  passing through Mirabella di Passo, Guardia dei Lombardi, Lacedonia, Rocchetta Sant Antonio, Melfi and today Venosa. Historically the route has taken us out of the kingdom of the Lombards and into Norman and Renaissance hill towns.  To find a Norman Fortress in Melfi was more than a surprise.


In these highland days, we have seen central southern Italy in many lights – most of them pretty bright!  Many of the old hill settlements seem to have ancient populations scarcely being replaced by the next generation. We have seen what could only be described as social decay. But in Mirabella di Passo and Venosa  we find lively and vibrant communities.  Between the old hill towns we have found many high and quiet routes with fine walking and wonderful vistas and views. Gentle cool breezes and the occasional shading cloud made the heat more bearable. 

For the first time we have experienced the kindness and hospitality of the Catholic church. Our thanks to our Italian and Ethiopian hosts in Rocchetta Sant Antonio. Otherwise, our thanks to the former tourist guide,  who gave us a guided tour of Benevento’s ancient remains in his old Fiat Panda! ..and the many other unmentioned folks who have made an impression on us through their kindness and generosity.  Special thanks to the small legion of Italians who have given us wrong directions and led us to explore so many interesting parts of their towns!

Although we have stood up to the heat and the daily distances, our feet have begun to suffer from the accumulation of many small injuries and blisters. Good wound management by a trained nurse has become crucial!


More prosaically, the quality of local government and information for the traveller has continued to be execrable. In one nameless “Pro Loco” Information Office the staff member was reduced to giving his advice on the basis of a 1967 map of Europe once  provided free by the Humble Oil Company! (he succeeded though!).


Basilicata is already looking much better.

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6 Responses to Higher up into the Hills of Basilicata

  1. Robert says:

    Hello Ian and Regula

    We are following your route on google maps by typing in the names of the towns you’ve mentioned you’ve been through. Sorry to hear your feet are suffering. When you get to the coast I suggest you both go for a paddle as the salt water will help sooth your wounds. It would be a fun thing to do anyway! I presume you’re crossing into Albania from Bari to Durresi, or maybe Vlora, and then on through northern Greece towards Thessaloniki – is that about right?

    Best wishes to you both.


    • Glad you are following it! The route of the Via Appia is hard to find on the ground sometimes!

    • We are following the original 4th C BC route of the Via Appia. Not always easy – but we have a route drawn up by Giovanni Caselli which seems accurate. Yes, after Brindisi, we have to go to Bari (ferry from Brindisi is gone) – then it is the Via Egatia – Durres – Florina – Thessalonica – and onwards. Not thinking that far ahead!

      Feet are a bit of a mess at the moment…we are still moving though!


  2. Jonas Ewe says:

    I follow you on the Touring Club Italia map and IGM 1:25000 website. How you manage to find anything, that would qualify as traces of a Roman road above or below ground and follow it, is a mystery to me.
    Viel Spass und Viel Glück

    • Yes, the route has been hard to find at times. But Giovanni’s maps have been very very useful. Whether we have been walking on a viable route I’m not sure…. too difficult in places with vehicles, very remote between Palazzo SG and Gravina for instance. Lots to be done – maybe out of Rome another way and then Trajana instead….

  3. Pingback: Travel: Sassi di Matera, Italy | Thewonderingchef's Blog

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